8 components of a strong admission application

Applying to US colleges and universities is a long drawn process (see our previous post on this). Having worked hard and long, it is critical that when the student finally submits her/his application, it accurately and strongly conveys the student’s credentials.   There are many components that make a successful application. Each component is important (yes, there are no numerical weights attached to each component!).   Please review the Infographic: Components of a strong US college... read more

SAT or ACT. Which one should you take?

Definitely, in the top 10 FAQ’s that we get!   And again, while the answer is “it depends” in most cases — we are willing to stick our neck out on this – and actually make a recommendation!   Click to see the Infographic that addresses this question->sat vs... read more

Should you send supplementary materials like additional recommendation letters, portfolios, etc., to US colleges?

As the application process gathers steam, there are daily questions from students as to what they could add to make their application stand out. Please note that most Admissions Committee give greatest weight to the required documents. Hence, we recommend that you focus your energy primarily on those elements of the application that are so important. Most of you are taking your half-yearly or mid-term examinations in India. It is critical to do well in these exams as most schools use the results to indicate predicted grades as they send your reports and recommendations to colleges. US colleges would have made their final decisions on your application (except for waitlist cases) before the results of your school leaving examination are declared next summer. Hence, the predicted grades play a critical role. And for those in grades 9, 10 & 11, please focus on doing well in the final examinations. Please think very carefully before starting work on that additional recommendation or the portfolio. Will it matter?Complete the necessary parts of the application – focus your energy on ensuring that your essays help you stand out and your application is carefully crafted. And, while Stanford would that additional recommendation, getting one from your father’s best friend’s wife’s brother’s company’s CEO is NOT useful! Send additional information which is pertinent to what you wish to study, presents new and important facts, about your application and, is credible. Most importantly, work on it only after you are convinced that you have put in your best effort in the entire application and required materials to create the best application you can!   Author: Mrinalini... read more

One-year MBA programs versus two-year MBA programs

The traditional two-year MBA program generally comprises two academic periods of nine-months each with a summer break between them. The summer is generally spent in an internship. The one-year MBA basically is one long academic period – the duration varies from 10-months to a year. Since the introduction of the one-year MBA in Europe, it has been gaining popularity slowly but steadily across the world. Understandably, the cost is lower. Also, many students do not want to (or cannot afford to) be away from the workforce for two years. The one-year MBA offers many of the advantages of the two-year programs – a great education, networking opportunities and the considerable resources of a good business school. What is missing is the opportunity to seek an internship: this is an important decision-making factor for many students who leverage on the internship to get a full-time offer. The one-year MBA is quite the norm in Europe with the INSEAD MBA in lead. While two-year MBA programs remain popular in the US, there are a few business schools offering the 1-year option along with the traditional two-year program. Students who have the benefit of an undergraduate education in business or have built a strong foundation of skill through experience are increasing looking at one-year programs to maximize the returns on their investment of time and money. The two programs cater to different audiences. If you are an entrepreneur and wish to learn yet be able to return to your business at the earliest, clearly the one-year MBA works well for you. On the other hand, you are a non-business major who is... read more

What supplementary materials can undergraduate students send in with their applications?

  Apart from the application, scores from standardized tests such as the SAT and the ACT, and required documents, many colleges often allow students to send materials which they believe will better reflect their potential for success in college. Apart from the often allowed visual arts and performing arts supplement, it is possible to submit alternative materials which demonstrate a high level of motivation, problem-solving ability or achievement. These could include research papers written independently or for a school project, description of science projects, the extended essay for IB students, summary of inventions, patents, designs and computer/ robotics programs, essays written for competitions, projects which indicate entrepreneurship, social commitment and leadership skills, etc. Please keep in mind that submissions must be of exceptional quality; average does not qualify! This is not a place to just add more information about you. It is an opportunity to tell the admissions committee about something which is outstanding and has not found a place in your application. Before sending your materials, do check to see if the school is open to receiving additional materials!   Author: Mrinalini Batra. Mrinalini is the Founder and CEO of International Educational Exchange (IEE). For over 22 years now, IEE has been helping Indian students find and pursue great overseas educational opportunities.... read more

How does Brexit impact Indian students who want to study abroad?

  In recent years, the rising value of the GB Pound and the tightening of UK visa rules, had diminished the popularity of UK as a viable study destination for Indian students. However, The day after the Brexit referendum, a parent asked us to add UK colleges to their son’s college list (for applying abroad)! With the GB Pound falling instantaneously, the tuition cost has fallen by 10% for Indian students and that does make it attractive to many. A lot depends on how things shape up in future. A large number of students heading to the UK are graduate students, keen on research. Brexit would probably impact research funds at universities as EU withdraws its support and this will adversely affect Indian students. Brexit may make the UK a less favoured destination for students who seek multicultural communities. On the other hand, the exit of EU students may create more positions to be filled which may go in the Indian students’ favour.   Author: Mrinalini Batra. Mrinalini is the Founder and CEO of International Educational Exchange (IEE). For over 22 years now, IEE has been helping Indian students find and pursue great overseas educational... read more

Can international students apply to US colleges without taking the SAT or the ACT?

Yes. There are colleges and universities in the US which are test-optional or test-flexible. This should not be taken to mean that these colleges have lower admission standards. All it means is that these colleges realize the limitations of standardized exams in evaluating the potential of applicants and prefer to focus on other determinants of success such as GPA, excellence in extra-curricular activities, etc. Test-optional means that some students will have the flexibility to decide whether they want to submit ACT or SAT scores to the college along with their application. Test-flexible means that these colleges would allow the students to submit scores from SAT Subject tests, AP tests or the International Baccalaureate program, instead of SAT or ACT scores. A growing number of colleges and universities recognize that not all students excel on standardized tests. Some do not have the aptitude for the tests while others have test anxiety. Test optional colleges focus on other factors such as GPA, standing in class, exceptional talent in an area, etc., to make an informed decision. Art colleges have generally not required the applicants to take standardized exams – they focus instead on the applicant’s portfolio showcasing their talent in the discipline they wish to major in. So, if you have a good GPA and are, either terrified of taking the standardized tests or have done poorly in them, you could choose to look at test-optional schools. Some examples of test-optional colleges are American University, Wake Forest University, Bates College, Sarah Lawrence College and Bowdoin. New York University, Middlebury College and University of Rochester are test-flexible. Author: Mrinalini Batra. Mrinalini is... read more

SAT or the ACT – which is the easier test?

Since the CollegeBoard declared that the SAT test would have a new avatar in 2016, the ACT has had a surge in its popularity in India. Students, uncertain over how they would fare in the new format, are seriously looking at the ACT as a viable alternative. While I understand that there would be a certain amount of speculation vis-à-vis how one must prepare for the new exam, I am at a loss when asked which is the easier test – the SAT or the ACT. The SAT and ACT tests are used almost interchangeably in the US admissions process. However, the tests are structured differently and play to different strengths of the students. Just because one does not do well on the SAT is not reason enough to assume that you would do exceptionally well on the ACT and vice-versa. Aptitude does have an important role to play; however, it is not the sole criterion for an excellent performance. What matters more is your understanding of the test, you hard work, your preparation and practice. If these components are missing, it does not matter which test you take, you will not do well. The English section in the new SAT is much easier than its previous avatar while the Math Section has become considerably more difficult. The ACT has a Science section in addition to the English and Math and, the penalty for a wrong answer goes up in a non-linear fashion. Our advice is to take the diagnostic tests for both the exams and see which one you are more comfortable with. After that, focus on your... read more

Why an undergraduate degree in the US makes sense?

This is a question I am asked often. While the reasons for doing so are very specific to the student (or the family’s) aspirations, there are a few common ones: the flexibility in choosing a major and, the ability to make a change until the end of the second year of college the opportunity to take a balanced course load – essentially the liberal arts foundation which is central to the US educational system generally robust infrastructure and access to cutting-edge labs (so critical for the STEM majors) Comprehension-based learning Experiential learning opportunities And many more reasons… Of late, however, one other factor has become important – the certainty in gaining admission to a good program of one’s choice. With admission criteria and tests required for admission to a number of Indian colleges and Universities changing from year to year, it has become extremely difficult to be sure of what the next year would bring. The changes to the NEET are just another example of the same. Hence, the US is also emerging as a ‘certain’ backup option for a number of Indian students. — Author: Mrinalini Batra. Mrinalini is the Founder and CEO of International Educational Exchange (IEE). For over 22 years now, IEE has been helping Indian students find and pursue great overseas educational... read more

How Not to Be a Helicopter Parent

Indian parents and students…does this sound familiar? For adults, the pressure to have their children get the right grades, do the right activities and get into the right college can sometimes seem overwhelming. Enter the helicopter parent – the well-intentioned mother or father who hovers so close to their teen that the child nearly gets lost in the propeller’s dust cloud. More….at this US News & World Report report.     [Courtesy: US News & World Report]  ... read more

What’s the Toughest College to Get Into in the United States? Hint: Not Harvard

A whopping 42,487 students—the most in Stanford university history—applied for a seat in the school’s class of 2019. Only 2,144 (5.05 percent) of the applicants were offered a spot as a freshman.     LATEST STATS FOR IVY LEAGUE COLLEGES: Harvard University: 37,305 applicants; 5.3 percent acceptance rate Columbia University: 36,250 applicants; 6.1 percent acceptance rate Yale University: 30,237 applicants; 6.49 percent acceptance rate Princeton University: 27,290 applicants; 6.99 percent acceptance rate Brown University: 30,397 applicants; 8.5 percent acceptance rate. University of Pennsylvania: 37,267 applicants; 9.9 percent acceptance rate Dartmouth College: 20,505 applicants; 10.3 percent acceptance rate Cornell University: 41,907 applicants; 14.9 percent acceptance... read more

The new SAT: what to expect in 2016

The test will shift from its current score scale of 2400 back to 1600, with a separate score for the essay. No longer will test takers be penalized for choosing incorrect answers.   The SAT college exam will undergo sweeping changes on what’s tested, how it’s scored and how students can prepare.   Source:... read more

Delhi | Sending the largest share of undergraduate students to the US

According to the latest reports from the Brookings Institute, and as reported by the Times of India (Delhi, Nov 23, 2014): => Delhi has the largest percentage of undergraduate students securing F-1 visas (27.7%) => This is followed by Mumbai (16.7%) => No surprises, Hyderabad has the highest number of total F-1 visas issued (for Bachelor’s and beyond) at 26220   Image courtesy: The Times of India  ... read more

Indian Students in USA | A 28% Jump!

As per the latest data from The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), since October 2013, the number of students studying in the United States from India increased 28 percent.  So much is the impact of Indian students in the US, that this report has a special section on India (and no other country. Report highlights: Total number of foreign students in US: 1.3 Mn Of these, 70% are from Asia; and top-3 counties from Asia are: China (329k), India (134k) and South Korea (88k). India witnessed a jump of 28% on the total number of its students in the US –  in the last one year Indians by the level of degee they are pursuing: Master’s (73%, Doctorate (13%) and Bachelor’s (11%) 65% of all students from India study engineering and computer and information sciences programs Top 5 Majors for Indian students: engineering, computer science, business, biological sciences and physical... read more

6 Great MBA Schools for the Social Catalyst in you

The trend is there for all to see. A large number of MBA graduates are opting to work in the social sector (along with a large number being pulled into the startups). As these new MBA enter the world of social change — they soon realize that while the basic principles of “management” still apply; the social or development or not-for-profit  sector needs its own set of skills as well. Understanding of society, political contexts, needs of stakeholders, constitutional provisions, etc. are areas that are often new to the fresh graduates. The good news is that we now have US business schools that prepare students for an impact-ful career in the social sector. Some great names are: 1. Harvard University 2. Northwestern University 3. Yale University 4. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 5. NYU 6. Stanford... read more

8 Great Merit-based Scholarships for Indian Students

It is true that, in general, merit scholarships (as distinct from need-based financial aid) are rather limited for Indian students looking to pursue undergraduate studies in USA.   However, there ARE a few colleges/universities that have historically been “somewhat liberal” with scholarships for Indian students.   A sample of these national universities or liberal arts colleges is shared here: Duke University Wake Forest University Boston University Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute University  of Miami University of Iowa Amherst College Williams College   As these names indicate, these institutions are quite highly ranked. Hence, global  competition for these scholarships is stiff.  Be prepared. All the best! Team... read more

A roadmap for under-graduate studies in USA

We are frequently asked this – and similar questions for UG studies in the US: 1. How long is the application process? 2. What should I focus on in my 10th/11th/12th standard? 3. How do I balance between school classes, board exams, prep for IIT/Medical and US applications? 4. How heavily should I focus on my academics vs my extra-curricular activities?   The answers to most of the questions above are rather nuanced and in context of the student’s aspirations and credentials. But one thing is definitely true – the sooner you begin the journey the better off you will be. And yes, the journey does commence in the 9th class for some — but for most — the work begins in earnest in their 10th year of school. Please review the attached. We have attempted to illustrate the journey of preparing for UG studies in the US (for Indian students) graphically.   Hopefully your questions on timelines/milestones will get clarified. If you need more info, just give us a shout on [email protected]   Click on this link ->Journey and milestones for undergraduate studies in USA   Team IEE... read more

Is Early Decision for you?

While the admitted undergraduate students for Fall 2014 are excitedly preparing for their departure,  students aiming for Fall 2015 admissions are somewhat nervous and confused. There are many questions are on their minds….which colleges are best for me? How should I maximize my chances of financial aid/scholarships? What about AP’s? What is Early Decision?, etc.   In a subsequent post, we will cover all of these questions. Today’s post, however, is dedicated to the last question on Early Decision.   The best way to define “early” is to contrast it with “regular or normal”. Regular admission deadline at most schools is Jan 1, and results are announced by early April. Early decision applications need to be submitted during October-November (depending on the school) and decisions are available by mid-December. There are 3 flavours of the non-regular application process:   1. Early Decision (Binding) Early decision (ED) programs are usually binding. ‘Binding’ means that the applicant promises from the start that they will attend the school if their application is accepted.  Students can seek release from an early decision obligation only if the financial aid package they are offered is genuinely inadequate   Early decision applicants are expected to submit only one early decision application to one school. They can submit applications to other schools under normal application procedures, but agree that they will withdraw all those applications if they are accepted to the early decision school.   2. Early Action (Non Binding) Early admissions programs which do not ask applicants to commit to attending if they are accepted are generally known as Early action (EA) programs. In our view,... read more

Ivy Leagues and IEE

Over the years, many of our students have secured admissions at Ivy League institutions (often, with scholarships). Here’s a partial list: Brown– Harkaran Singh Uppal, Dipesh Chawla, Ishaan Sethi, Prerna Ramachandran, Sherya Bhargava, Tushar Bhargava Columbia – Vikramaditya Kapur, Sristhti Sinha Cornell – Vidit Bhargava, Nakul Beri, Aanchal Suri, Jayant Mukhopadhyay, Nandita Mathur, Kritika Oberoi Dartmouth – Aparajita Bijapurkar Harvard – Ridhi Kashyap Princeton – Farhan Abrol, Aparajita Bijapurkar, Prerna Ramachandran University of Pennsylvania – Ishita Batra, Hardik Gupta Yale – Farhan... read more

The Ivy Dream

ORIGIN OF THE TERM The Ivy League is a collegiate athletic conference comprising sports teams from eight private institutions of higher education in the North-Eastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group. The eight institutions are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University. The Ivy League now represents an educational philosophy inherent to the nation’s oldest schools. Seven of the eight schools were founded during the United States colonial period; the exception is Cornell, which was founded in 1865. Ivy League schools are viewed as some of the most prestigious, and are ranked among the best universities worldwide. All eight universities place in the top twenty of the U.S. News & World Report 2014 university rankings, including the top four schools and six of the top ten.   LOCATIONS OF IVY LEAGUE INSTITUTIONS   [Source:... read more

Best wishes for today’s SAT Tests!

You have worked hard. Prepared diligently. Now, go out and do your best at the test centre! Our best wishes go to our students who are taking the SAT Reasoning Test (SAT I) and various SAT Subject tests: Aadi Sharma Aayush Bhasin Abhi Kumar Adil Singh Dhaliwal Ahana Sethi Akhila Roy Chowdhry Altarash Barthakur Anay Jain Anushka Kapur Ayesha Bedi Bharat M Ahuja Harish R Sai Isha Kakar Ishaani Goyal Jaimit Aggarwal Jhilmil Malhotra Kaajal Joshi Kajal Soni Karn Dev Sharma Kaustav Roy Kritin Thapar Kunal Sanwalka Kunal Singh Lavanya Virmani Madhav Baidurjya Mansha Goel Mansi Jain Naman Verma Nishant Goel Prateek Bhatia Pregya Arya Raghav Batra Ronit Nanda Sambhav anand Sanya Nijhawan Saumya Johri Shuchi Prasad Siddhant Dev Siddharth Bhogra Siddharth Singh Simran Kaur Sethi Sunaina Mathur Tanavi Sharma Tanay Sharma Tanish Pratap Tulika Mohan Tushar Chetal Vineel Guntupalli Yamini Mandava – Team... read more

Admissions 2014

We are excited and proud to share that our students have secured admission (with scholarships, at times) at great colleges and universities! Wishing them all the best.   Partial list of students:   Abhinav Mahipal Arunita Mitash Divya Srinivasan Dhruv Kharbanda Dhruv Krishna Goyal Jaish Khurana Jeydev Beri Kartik Chhabra Mayank Mittal Punya Chadha Shaurya Dogra Srishti Sinha Tushar Malik Aakanksha Mishra Siddharth Singh Tanvi Sethi Zorian Cross Yash Bhargava Anmol Puri Aditya Singh Anay Ganeriwala Arnav Bajaj Gobind Sayal Tanya Tharani Vedant Sharma Abhinav Jain Akshay Singh Anuj Bhargava Dhruv Gupta   Partial list of colleges/universities they have secured admissions in: Yale Columbia UCLA Rutgers Princeton Warwick Georgia Tech Stevens Tech Cornell CMU Purdue  ... read more
Share This